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Dead or Alive 6

The Dead or Alive franchise is renowned for draping overtly sexualised characters on top of robust fighting systems. That reputation is understandable, given how older titles such as Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 had you ogling young women on beaches, or even delving into virtual reality depravity if you so chose. It’s all a little gross.

But from what I’ve played of Dead or Alive 6, it’s clear that Team Ninja has taken the criticism on board, toning down the boobs and butts, instead focusing on what really matters – a fighter that feels fun to play. While light in mechanics compared to its competitors, Dead or Alive 6 is a great, initially simplistic 3D brawler that hides plenty of depth inside its many characters and systems.

It does falter due to a lack of in-depth modes and fairly nonsensical story, but there are still plenty of laughs to be had, both alone and with a couple of friends by your side.

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The destruction system on both characters and across most stages looks great

Dead or Alive 6 is a surprisingly pedestrian affair when it comes to modes. It doesn’t offer much beyond the fighter wheelhouse that we haven’t seen before, and new additions never really blew me away. That being said, the likes of Story mode, Arcade and DOA Quest still kept me occupied for a good number of hours. A large roster of characters that includes several newcomers is also a welcome treat.

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Razer Abyssus Essential

What is the Razer Abyssus Essential?

The first thing you’ll notice about the Razer Abyssus Essential gaming mouse is how normal it looks. Razer is famed for its series of bright, positively extravagant products that will immediately catch the attention of gamers. By comparison, the Abyssus is the shy kid too scared to ask for a dance at the school disco.

Despite its underwhelming appearance, this is still a formidable gaming mouse with an impressive range of features for the price. It won’t blow your socks off, but as an entry-level peripheral it’s definitely worth considering.

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The Abyssus Essential is a tiny little mouse, but it packs a decent punchRazer Abyssus Essential – Design, build and features

The Abyssus Essential is a tame peripheral, coated with a simplistic black colour with two distinctive uses of RGB lighting. The first is Razer’s distinctive logo at the bottom-centre, shifting between a variety of different hues once plugged in.

You can find the second highlight on the underside of the Abyssus, snaking around the bottom so a myriad of colours can be seen illuminating your desk. This results in some cool effects, enhanced further once I made the effort to customise it with Razer Chroma.

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Razer Cynosa Chroma

What is the Razer Cynosa Chroma?

Razer has long managed to produce an attractive blend of high-end gaming peripherals alongside more budget options that still boast that classic Razer quality. Of course, there are compromises to be found in the latter space, but the Razer Cynosa Chroma strikes an elegant balance by providing a colourful, attractive and mechanically sound keyboard that does exactly what you’d expect from a device costing only £64.99.

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Razer Cynosa Chroma – Design and build

Keyboards from Razer have become synonymous with outrageous design quirks and the gorgeous implementation of RGB lighting. The Cynosa Chroma ticks one of these boxes, but feels relatively pedestrian in its appearance. This is an entry-level gaming keyboard that sports an aesthetic to match, adorned with a distinctive black colour and 104 keys with programmable RGB lighting.

It looks just fine, but it becomes immediately clear you’re paying for a satisfactory performance and practicality rather than something purposely extravagant. This tame build quality might disappoint those looking for something more outrageous, but I admired how it didn’t strive to be something over the top.

A mellow design really works in its favour, especially if you’re looking for a gaming keyboard that blends into your workspace. Plus, the budget price point makes it all the more appealing.

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Trials Rising Review

Very few games make me laugh, and I wasn’t expecting Trials Rising to be one of them.

Trials Rising is a game, ostensibly, about taking your motorbike of choice and driving it to the end of a short track. Along the way you’ll have to plow through construction sites, gunfights, collapsing buildings and even movie studios. It’s a simple task, moving on a 2D plane from left to right and trying to survive the obstacles and set a good time. Come off, and you’ll go back to the next checkpoint.

However, it nails something fundamental about humour I don’t think I’ll ever personally grasp with any real success. There’s something inherently hilarious about failure or the way you come off your bike when jolted against obstacles, smashing into dumpsters, explosive barrels or even a wrecking ball.

Consistently I’d find myself chuckling at the way you collide with something at the end of each track or even the Buster Keaton-esque way you try avoid a crash when you lose control, skidding across the track on your back wheel, head skimming inches from the ground as you desperate wiggle your analogue sticks to try and regain control or, at the very least, stay upright long enough to hit the next checkpoint.

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Anthem Review in Progress

Editors Note: This is a review-in-progress of Anthem. We’ll be providing a full scored review when it fully launches on February 22. 

Bioware’s multiplayer shooter Anthem is finally here. Well, it is if you’ve got EA Access or happen to be subscribed to Origin Premier or pre-ordered one of many distinct limited edition bundles. It’s needlessly complicated, but having now sunk over 10 hours into the multiplayer shooter, we can cut past the confusion and ask – is it actually any good?

After a tumultuous demo period, many have been left wondering if Anthem will be a ‘make or break’ moment for Bioware. Mass Effect Andromeda crashed and burned and led to the studio shelving the franchise. Anthem lingers on a similar precipice, prepared to penetrate the shooter market with an experience to rival the likes of Destiny and The Division.

To be blunt and straight to the point, from what I’ve seen it doesn’t succeed. After several hours, much of Anthem is spent trawling through obtuse design decisions to experience limited pockets of exquisite gunplay and exploration. Despite launching in the shadow of its competitors, Anthem doesn’t seem to have adopted any quality-of-life changes that make them so appealing.

In its current state, the majority of my time is spend sitting at loading screens, navigating a muted hub or voicing frustration at a strange matchmaking system. One of these little problems wouldn’t be a nuisance on its own, but all of them compounded together leaves us with an experience that requires a lot of patience to play. It’s a huge shame, since the core of Anthem is delightfully innovative.

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HP Omen Sequencer Gaming Keyboard Review

What is the HP Omen Sequencer?

The Omen Sequencer is an absolute beast of a keyboard, immediately cementing itself as a welcome member of HP’s family of gaming peripherals. Boasting optical switches with a “speed you can feel”, according to HP, the sequencer feels immediately intuitive to use with its host of cool aesthetic features that compliment the rest of the Omen range.

Other gaming keyboards, such as the Razer Huntsman Elite, also support these new-fangled optical switches while simultaneously giving the Sequencer a run for its money. However, are they enough to help this device stand out from the crowd? After spending a week with it, it’s time for us to find out.

HP Omen Sequencer – Design and build

The HP Omen range of gaming products has already impressed with the Omen Reactor, a gaming mouse that boasted a healthy mix of striking visual hallmarks and a decent number of mechanical features. The same praise can be lauded upon the Sequencer.

First up, it’s far heavier than your usual gaming keyboard. So much so, that hurling this into a nearby window would likely do some damage. While offering a sturdy foundation for the keys to rest upon, the base is an unattractive part of an otherwise luscious keyboard.

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The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 3 Review

Spoiler warning for the events of Episode 3 ‘Broken Toys’.

Well, there’s certainly a lot to unpack here, isn’t there? Aside from the fact that ‘Broken Toys’ ended quite literally with a bang, this episode was full to the brim with twists and turns, as one might expect from the penultimate chapter in a long-running story.

I think it’s fair to say that when Skybound Games announced it would work on the remainder of The Walking Dead: The Final Season (following the collapse of Telltale Games), there was a good amount of trepidation in the air. Despite what it was up against however, the team at Skybound Games should be proud of themselves for keeping Clementine’s final chapter going without any major hiccups.

I know that some critics haven’t been too happy with the slower pace and smaller scale of The Final Season, but I for one have no problems with it. In fact, after three seasons of constantly being on the move – think about the breakneck of The New Frontier – it’s a welcome change to have a more grounded narrative, one that can indulge its cast of characters with more screen time. In no scene is this more apparent than the party held by our main protagonists, just before they head out to save their friends.

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The Division 2 Preview

Have you ever wanted to steal the Declaration of Independence? Nicolas Cage has, and it seems Ubisoft is also keen to get its hands on the archaic document. During the opening hours of The Division 2 you’ll be sent on this quest of freedom, infiltrating a museum crawling with gun-toting fascists feeding off the scraps of society.

What follows is a series of intense encounters where myself and a stranger were pushed through winding corridors and dense atriums, leaving corpses as we went. Eventually, we reach the vault and take our spoils. It just so happens that right next to the declaration is a chest holding an AK-47 and a sweet pair of knee-pads. Just what I needed!

The Division 2 is a tonally anachronous affair, clearly bathing in the flaming political climate as a backdrop, without ever daring to tackle any of the debate its inspiration will inevitably bring up. And that’s mostly fine, especially when it quickly becomes clear the characters and dialogue never take themselves too seriously. Enemies sprint at you yelling curses before succumbing to certain death, while audio logs are filled with cheesy, somewhat self-aware dialogue about the downfall of Washington D.C.

This won’t be for everyone, especially those looking for a broken society to explore ripe with anecdotes that emphasise the plight of its downfall. However, at the core of The Division 2 lies a wonderfully responsive multiplayer shooter with plenty going for it, addressing an abundance of issues that held the original back from greatness.

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Devil May Cry 5 Preview

Devil May Cry 5 TrailerDevil May Cry 5 Release Date

Capcom has confirmed Devil May Cry 5 will launch for PS4, Xbox One and PC on March 8, 2019

Devil May Cry 5 Preview

For something that started out as a canned pitch for Resident Evil, Devil May Cry has grown to be one of Capcom’s biggest franchises. Dante’s demon-slaying adventures have been doing the rounds for almost twenty years, spanning multiple entries and a reboot that didn’t exactly go down well with fans.

But now, the boys are back in town with an all-new adventure that brings everything we love about the series right to the forefront. Over-the-top action? Check. Cheesy one-liners? Check. Snazzy jackets? Check. Everything we’ve been waiting for is here with Devil May Cry 5, and from the few hours we’ve played, it could be a new standard for the series.

The previous demo I experienced for Devil May Cry 5 was relatively limited, giving me access to a few choice areas and a bombastic boss encounter that did an excellent job of showcasing combat. Sadly, story and style were left by the wayside. Sure, there was plenty of teasing going on in trailers, but I was desperate to actually get my hands on it.

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Kingdom Hearts 3 Review

I’ve never been driven to tears by a title screen before. That all changed with Kingdom Hearts 3. Square Enix seems to have done the impossible with this long-awaited sequel, bringing the saga to a close in an immensely satisfying way, casting aside doubts on a series that often takes pleasure in its own convolution.

Sora’s new adventure is a triumphant JRPG that charts an emotional, action-packed journey that takes you through multiple worlds littered with irresistible charm. After 13 years, I’m happy to say that Kingdom Hearts 3 was worth the wait.  

It isn’t without its flaws, but The Dark Seeker Saga is brought to an exhilarating close despite the huge number of obstacles standing before it. Whether newcomers will find the same pleasure in it as I did is another matter, but the entire package does a commendable job of getting players up to speed.

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All of your favourite characters return, including Kairi in an absurdly fabulous new dress

Before I dive into the thick of things, players who are coming to Kingdom Hearts 3 without prior experience of the series should definitely check out the Memory Archive. Accessed from the main menu, this gives you a whistle-stop tour of events leading up to the current game’s narrative. It’s far from comprehensive, but provides enough context to cement the stakes you’ll be fighting for.

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Life is Strange 2: Episode 2 Review

Life is Strange 2 wears its political inspiration on its sleeve, happy to highlight that we live in a world where ignorant xenophobia has resurged thanks to the hateful rhetoric that penetrates our media. World leaders are happy to build walls to separate us from others, leaving children to starve at the borders purely to serve their own prejudices.

One early scene in Rules – the sequel’s second episode – has our protagonist glancing at a social media feed only to be met with insults; threats of violence happily wished upon his loved ones. While not entirely subtle, and at times clumsily executed, DONTNOD Entertainment is tackling a space that many studios have steered clear, and deserves commendation for it.

It also builds upon the ambitious foundations of its first episode with Roads, a solid continuation of the Diaz Brothers’ treacherous journey across America following the death of their father. With Daniel slowly coming to terms with his supernatural powers, this is an emotional rollercoaster of loss, friendship and what it means to grow up and harbour responsibility.

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Say hello to Cassidy – a rebellious punk rocker with fabulous hair

Rules begins several months after the last episode concluded. Christmas is right around the corner, with Sean and Daniel having found shelter in an abandoned house amidst the Oregon Mountains. Living on a diet of canned ravioli and freezing lake water, Sean is determined to refine his brother’s newly found powers. It starts with hurling snowballs and lifting rocks, but by the end of the episode things escalate much, much further.

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Far Cry New Dawn Preview

Far Cry New Dawn TrailerFar Cry New Dawn release date

Ubisoft has confirmed that Far Cry New Dawn will launch for PS4, Xbox One and PC on February 15, 2019

Far Cry New Dawn Preview

Far Cry 5 made a few noteworthy changes to the series’ established norm, but little that deviated from the tried-and-tested formula we’ve been subject to for the better part of a decade. So, when New Dawn’s sudden announcement came about at The Game Awards 2018, I was left feeling more than a little sceptical.

How will this post-apocalyptic shooter differentiate itself from the series in which it belongs, let alone the slew of other grim outings set for release in the coming months. The answer: it makes subtle strides forward with what I’d come to expect, ushered by a colourful aesthetic that really helps this nuclear wasteland pop.

Acting as a narrative continuation to Far Cry 5, New Dawn will see a few returning faces and familiar locations as you venture through a re-imagined vision of Hope County. It isn’t a stark difference, but altered enough to feel fresh for returning players. That, and you get to run over radioactive deer with a quad bike.

Related: Upcoming PS4 games

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Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

Ace Combat 7 is – in short – Top Gun by way of Neon Genesis Evangelion, offering a unique opportunity to mix flying fighter jets with wondering about the meaning of human consciousness.

This is Ace Combat’s wheelhouse, in a way. Aerial combat games have always split into two different camps: the arcade shooting shenanigans of titles like H.A.W.X and Afterburner or the realistic “I just crashed because I didn’t realise I’d forgotten to put my landing gear down before landing” seriousness of titles like IL-2 Sturmovik or Falcon 4.0.

Ace Combat is definitely part of the first group, and despite having an arcade and simulation control set, it’s never particularly difficult to do what you want to do with whichever plane you take to the skies in. This is useful, because unlike the faux military stylings of many aerial combat games, Ace Combat will throw just about anything at you if it thinks it might be fun: battles against swarms of fighters are punctuated with bombing radar towers, escaping collapsing skyscrapers or trying to take down particularly tricky enemy aces who corkscrew around the air with ease.

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Not all of these experiments work. Ace Combat’s challenge comes from trying to take into account your speed and direction and your enemies, lining up your spins and turns so that you come in at the perfect angle to get a missile lock or the burst of gunfire that can take down an errant plane that is also tearing around. Dropping bombs or taking out slower targets pales in comparison slightly, and despite the fact you’re joyriding a multimillion dollar jet plane at several hundred miles an hour, it can feel a little stale.

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Metro Exodus Preview

Metro Exodus is hauntingly beautiful. It echoes the loneliness of a broken world in a way few games have, making you feel genuinely hopeless as the crumbled lands before you offer little salvatation. Earth is already in ruins, and your mission as Artyom is to find what little safety there is amongst the nuclear devastation.

Aboard a goliath train known as The Aurora, our hero embarks on a trip across Russia in search of a place to call home. Spanning four seasons, this is the most ambitious experience 4A Games has created, and it most definitely shows.

A series once known for its linear, scripted set-pieces and claustrophobic exploration, the journey of this formula expanding into the realm of open-world design is an intriguing one, largely because it could all go horribly wrong. Luckily, it retains everything I love about the series while positively building upon it.

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The environments are ripe with wildlife, much of which is out to get you

During a recent preview event, I was given free reign to explore a trio of seasons: Autumn, Summer and Winter. They’re all diverse in their landscapes and mechanics, while also advancing an overarching narrative while you travel across the country.

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Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes

From the second it begins, you can tell that Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes has been developed on a small budget. A series often associated with bloody, overzealous action and absurd characters has been scaled down to a relatively intimate affair. Acclaimed director Suda51, who returns to the series for the first time since the original, is perfectly aware of this, too.

Dialogue pokes fun at the relatively sparse stages and minimal aesthetic, a quick dash of wit that fails to detract from what is often a tiresomely cumbersome experience. Despite this, Travis Strikes Again possesses an inevitable charm that carries it, complimented by a stark variety of styles with which it isn’t afraid to experiment.

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World renown assassin Travis Touchdown returns in his latest adventure, and the premise couldn’t be more simple. Bad Man, the father of a girl you previously killed, has tracked you down and swears revenge.

Seconds before our hero’s head is turned into bolognese by a baseball bat, you’re sucked into a mysterious games console known as the Death Drive MK-II. More haunted than the Ouya, this obscure hardware is the main attraction of Travis Strikes Again.

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New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

The Nintendo Switch has long become a second home for exclusive darlings that sadly failed to make an impact on the Wii U, a system that never quite managed the stellar momentum of its younger sibling. The majority of these are fantastic gems, so it’s a pleasure to see them given another chance.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is the next in a long line of ports that improve upon the original release with new enhancements and features that, while hardly game-changing, provide ample reason for a second, or – for many – a first visit.

Deluxe is just that, refining the original package in minimal ways while introducing new power-ups that will make weaker players and newcomers feel more welcome than ever. Granted, it’s a relatively pedestrian 2D affair for the seasoned plumber, but enjoyable enough that it definitely deserves a spot on Nintendo’s hybrid console.

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The Super Crown is Deluxe’s biggest new addition, and it’s a blast to play

If you’ve experienced any of Mario’s adventures in the past 20 years, you’ll know exactly what happens in the opening moments of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. Mario and friends are tucking into a lovely dinner right before Bowser comes along and throws another tantrum, taking over the Mushroom Kingdom in the process.

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Resident Evil 2 Remake Preview

My previous experience with Resident Evil 2 Remake left me underwhelmed. The Gamescom 2018 demo featured Claire Redfield going up against a ferocious William Birkin – and, sadly, served to highlight some of the series’ worst habits.

Being hounded by a boss in a confined space with no ammunition to call your own is undeniably tense, yet equally frustrating as you’re powerless to do anything. My only option was survival, despite being eager to explore and soak in the atmosphere of this survival horror classic’s modern vision.

Having now spent a number of hours with both Claire and Leon’s campaigns, I’m completely sold. Resident Evil 2 Remake sets a new benchmark for recreating beloved titles. So much so, that it builds upon the original’s world and characters in ways I really didn’t expect.

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Leon has definitely seen better days.

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Razer Electra V2

What is the Razer Electra V2?

Sitting on the cheaper side of Razer’s growing range of gaming headsets, the Razer Electra V2 isn’t exactly a hallmark of quality. Nevertheless, it delivers a surprisingly robust audio experience for the price.

Coming in at £54.99, the Razer Electra V2 offers everything you’d expect of an affordable gaming peripheral without sacrificing the iconic aesthetic synonymous with the brand itself. You’re not paying for premium feel or sound here, resulting in a budget headset we can easily recommend.

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Razer Electra V2 – Design

Sporting a black design with neon green highlights, the Razer Electra V2 headset is immediately distinctive. It’s also quite small, fitting fairly snuggly around my head and ears. It offers little by way of any adjustment, which is a disadvantage when compared to the brand’s more versatile, expensive headsets.

The frame is made of cheap-feeling plastic, resulting in a headset that isn’t the most comfortable to wear for prolonged periods. The Electra V2’s upper portion is a mixture of plastic and metal, much like the Razer Nari, albeit of noticeably inferior quality. 

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PlayStation Classic

What is the PlayStation Classic?

The PlayStation Classic is a miniature version of Sony’s 1994 PlayStation. It’s a similar retro exercise to the SNES Mini or Neo Geo mini, except that while those games were from the golden age of 2D gaming, the PlayStation was the console that heralded 3D gaming.

Problem is, these early attempts at 3D were innovative, but not necessarily great looking. Titles like Syphon Filter or Destruction Derby represent early attempts at the slick 3D gaming we expect now, and upscaled via HDMI to fit big screens, can’t hide their imperfections.

For those of you wondering where the trend for retro re-releases can stop, it’s here. The PlayStation, along with titles like Final Fantasy 7, Metal Gear Solid and Cool Boarders 2 which are on the PlayStation Classic, was my first gaming love. But even with rose-tinted glasses it’s impossible to recommend the Classic to anyone but hardened enthusiasts.

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PlayStation Classic – Hardware and games

The PlayStation Classic is a looker. It comes with two standard controllers – no DualShock here – on arms length cables, plugging in USB ports to the PlayStation itself.

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Razer Ifrit

What is the Razer Ifrit?

Over the past few years, streaming has become a massive industry. Watching your favourite internet personalities dabbing away in Fortnite or opening lootboxes in Overwatch is nearly as common as gaming itself, so it’s no surprise that peripherals have arrived on the scene to support such pastimes.

The Razer Ifrit is an in-ear headset designed for just that purpose. It sports a light and comfortable design, which allows you to play well whilst entertaining viewers. Sadly, it fails on many other fronts.

While Razer should be commended for attempting something new, unusual design choices only serve to hold the Ifrit back in numerous important areas.

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Razer Ifrit – Design

It’s clear that Razer is trying to go for a minimalist aesthetic with the Ifrit, mimicking a headset you’re more likely to see in an Air Traffic Control Tower than in a gaming setup.

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Latest Article Comments

tynmanz Monthly Studio Report: May 2017
11 June 2017
I don't think they should continue to put features into it. They can add them later.

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